The silent city of Mdina has a number of entities that render it a gem under various aspects, chief among these are its architectural structures that reach their peak during the Baroque period. Highly characteristics of this aspect is the Mdina Cathedral ensemble formed by three contemporary buildings set in the centre of this city, namely the Mdina Cathedral, the Bishop’s palace flanking its southern side and within the same square facing the southern door of the Cathedral, the magnificent facade of the present-day Cathedral Museum. Each structure succeeded one another chronologically. The building of the present Cathedral set the ball rolling in this building enterprise. The old medieval Cathedral suffered irreparable damages with the great earthquake of 1693. Soon afterwards, the Cathedral Chapter embarked on the building of the present Baroque structure which reached its completion worth the building of its cupula in 1705.
Since parts of the site of the previous Bishop’ s palace had been needed for the new Cathedral, the same Cathedral Chapter had to provide new quarters for the local Bishop. This work was carried out during the 1710s The third structure followed soon afterwards. The Maltese Diocese was in sore need of a building to house its seminary which had started functioning at Mdina in 1703. The then Bishop of Malta Fra Paul Alpheran de Bussan assisted by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, embarked on this enterprise.
On certain feasts, various objects d’art adorn this Cathedral, which, though it was despoiled of almost all its silverware during the French occupation of the Maltese Islands (1798-1800), nevertheless managed to overcome these difficulties patricianly throughout the nineteenth century. Chief among these is a set of fifteen silver statues which originally belonged to St John’s Conventual Church, but were salvaged from their total destruction at the hands of the French during their short period in Malta, through the direct intervention of Bishop Gaetano Labini and the Cathedral Chapter. A heavy sum of money secured their acquisition otherwise they would have suffered their irreparable loss.
They are the work of the Roman Baroque Artist Antonio Arrighi who produced them between 1741 and 1743. A highly important gilded silver processional cross, the work of late fourteenth century Venatian Artists was also saved on the same occasion. The main altar’s mensa, on similar occasions, is covered with a silver frontal designed by the Maltese Artist Joseph Hyzler and executed by Roberto and Saverio Cannataci.